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Pistons at Celtics preview: Two storied franchises continue on different journeys

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The two teams meet for the third time this season for command of the season series

Boston Celtics v Detroit Pistons Photo by Chris Schwegler/NBAE via Getty Images

The Detroit Pistons will play for the first time this season in Boston, but have a big bag of experience with those Celtics as they will face them off for the third time (both teams win one game apiece) even though we aren’t quite through one-third of the season. As we mentioned previously, both teams are heading in different directions: Pistons embarked on a rebuild track while Boston has championship aspirations after years of meticulously building its own contender.

Game Vitals

When: 8 p.m. EST
Where: TD Garden, Boston, Mass.
Watch: Fox Sports Detroit

Analysis

As Laz said in his most recent podcast, “The Pistons are the NBA’s Best Worst Team”. Yes, they’re losing. But how much different is this losing compared to the losing of the past decade. The team has a fringe All-Star in Jerami Grant, a reclamation project who recently switched to the second gear in his efforts to redeem his basketball career (and maybe life) by averaging very efficient 18.2 PPG in Josh Jackson, another reclamation project that just made his debut in Pistons uniform last night in Dennis Smith Jr., and a fistful of young players who might turn into something special, or at the very least useful, in the future. But seemingly every game, there is something that gets the fanbase excited on the possibilities to come — like Isaiah Stewart’s surprise start and stellar performance against the Pacers.

The Celtics, in turn, are winning, but how much different is this winning to the success of year’s past? As much as I love one-on-one basketball, all the isos of Jaylen Brown, Jason Tatum, Kemba Walker and Marcus Smart (when he’s healthy) are stagnating Boston’s offense, especially when the last three keep firing long bricks. Teams around the league seem to be on to these tricks, and instead of an up-and-coming young team fighting for NBA finals, the Celtics are starting to look like they are bound for a second-round exit.

They recently installed Semi Ojeleye into the starting lineup to try and change things up. It helped them win last game against the Toronto Raptors as Ojeleye provided them with 24 points, making 6 threes. Also, rookie Payton Pritchard looks like a big win as a late first-round pick. But will it be enough to change much in Boston situation? Eh, it’ll be tough.

Tonight the two teams are both playing on SEGABABA. So their play might not reflect those differences as the result might be the function of the degree to which they’re run out of gas. But it’s not important who will sneak with a win in these circumstances. This old rivalry runs on a different level now. It’s not about who’ll win particular games. It’s about who’ll have more to show for what’s happening to both teams right now in a few years. And as a team with more open future the Pistons might not feel as losers on it. All the things that we could envy in the Celtics – a young and smart coach, two All-Star wings, lots of draft picks – are fading away under the shadow of maxing out as just another good team in the Eastern Conference.

Projected lineups

Detroit Pistons (6-19)

Delon Wright, Wayne Ellington, Saddiq Bey, Jerami Grant, Isaiah Stewart

Boston Celtics (13-11)

Kemba Walker, Jaylen Brown, Jayson Tatum, Semi Ojeleye, Daniel Theis

Have a good one, fellow DBBers!!!